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GE Healthcare Finds Opportunity, Acquires RTLS Firm

GE Healthcare puts its stake into the growing healthcare market for RTLS systems by acquiring software provider Agility Healthcare Solutions. GE Healthcare, which has 46,000 employees and customers in more than 100 countries, said it will continue to work with other RTLS hardware providers.
Oct 07, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

October 7, 2008—GE Healthcare ramped up its pursuit of the growing healthcare market for asset tracking and patient flow systems by acquiring healthcare real-time location system (RTLS) provider Agility Healthcare Solutions. The deal brings together GE Healthcare, which has 46,000 employees worldwide and $17 billion in revenue, with Agility, whose asset management and patient workflow software has been used with a variety of RTLS tag and reader systems. Agility will be folded into GE Healthcare's global Diagnostic and Imaging Services business, according to GE's announcement. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

GE Healthcare has its own proprietary RTLS product for hospital asset tracking, IntelliMotion, but going forward will offer customers solutions based on Agility software and third-party tags and readers, using the RTLS technology that is deemed best for the environment.

"We've been doing things in RFID for a number of years, and have about 14 or 15 installs of IntelliMotion," GE Healthcare general manager Rob Reilly told RFID Update. "We've been sitting back waiting for the technology curve to come to the point where ROI is very compelling. We think we're there now, and that the market is going to explode."

Agility CEO Fran Dirksmeier said hospitals typically begin using RTLS to track assets, but customers are increasingly considering the technology to help improve patient tracking and workflow management. Agility has developed software for asset tracking, resource management and workflow monitoring. It does not produce tags and readers, and its systems have been integrated with RTLS technology from multiple providers. GE can integrate the software with its own patient flow and hospital management systems.

"There are a lot of RTLS technologies out there, and they all work," Dirksmeier said. "They all work differently, and they all approach the use case differently."

"Technology is an enabler, but it is not what the customer should be worrying about," Reilly added.

Industry analysts and market researchers have noted healthcare is a strong and fast-growing market for RTLS systems for the past several years. Many solution providers pursue the market, but GE Healthcare's renewed emphasis can change the competitive landscape because of its size and existing customers in more than 100 countries.
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